PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has lost the support of some of his key allies including Local Government minister July Moyo who have stood with him throughout his political rise but are now being sidelined in favour of new faces.
Observers say the Zanu PF leader may find himself isolated as fresh fights for the party leadership take centre stage ahead of the December congress.
Mnangagwa and his ambitious deputy, Constantino Chiwenga, are embroiled in a fight for the control of the party ahead of the congress and subsequently the 2023 elections and, in that race, the grassroots have been deeply divided and are at war.
Although the fights have been temporarily shelved for the party to concentrate on the 26 March by-elections, insiders have warned that it will be gloves off immediately after the polls.
But in the fight, insiders said, Mnangagwa is now without key loyalists who stood with him in successive fights, including Moyo and former State Security minister Owen Ncube, among others. Moyo has stood by Mnangagwa since the 1990s.
He supported his bid to become national party chairperson in 1999, eventually losing out to John Nkomo, and his bid for the vice-presidency at the 2004 congress, which post however went to Joice Mujuru.
Moyo has also stood with Mnangagwa, sacrificing his own career in the process, after failing out of favour with Mugabe. Moyo was also with Mnangagwa ahead of the 2014 congress when he became vice-president.
The Local Government minister and Zanu PF secretary for transport and welfare also played a crucial role ahead of the November 2017 military coup that ousted Mugabe and his allies. Moyo stood with Mnangagwa through thick and thin, but felt he was not rewarded enough.
Moyo is believed to have been the force behind Ncube, who was accused by some in the Midlands of pushing his own partisan agenda. Mnangagwa believes Ncube was militating against his power consolidation project and, in the process, wittingly or unwittingly strengthening Chiwenga’s base.
The Local Government minister’s fallout with Mnangagwa has been consistently exposed by Norton member of Parliament Temba Mliswa who accused him and Ncube of working against the Zanu PF leader.
A party insider close to Moyo insist that he was unhappy with the manner in which Mnangagwa was aligning with other people and pushing his “real people” away.
“He has been with Mnangagwa for long and fought many of his battles in the ’90s when he was trying to be the party chairman, in 2004 when he was vying for the party vice-president’s post way until 2014 when he finally became vice-president and ahead of the 2017 military coup. He felt he did a lot but got little reward,” an insider said.
Moyo was among the many prominent politicians like Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda and Manicaland’s Mike Madiro, among others, who fought in his corner and were ultimately fired by Mugabe ahead of the 2004 congress.
Zanu PF’s current secretary for Finance Patrick Chinamasa was also among those who have supported Mnangagwa since the 2004 power-grab attempt and even during the 2017 coup, but is reportedly unhappy with what he got in return.
Chinamasa joins a growing list of other unhappy bigwigs now housed at Zanu PF headquarters, including secretary for administration Obert Mpofu.
Ncube was Mnangagwa’s blue-eyed boy for long in the Midlands province particularly in Kwekwe where he employed all sorts of tactics, including violence, to ensure Mnangagwa retained the status of Zanu PF provincial godfather. He then used the Midlands and Masvingo as stepping stones to national political power.
But in a surprise turn of events, Mnangagwa fired Ncube this year, accusing him of behaviour inconsistent with ministerial office.
Insiders told The NewsHawks that a team was appointed to probe the Ncube matter and a report is being finalised while his allies are pushing for Mnangagwa to retain him in cabinet.
In the Midlands, Mnangagwa is said to have installed people many believe lack the political clout to win him votes.
Mnangagwa is also accused within Zanu PF and the military circles of breaking a “coup coalition” and surrounding himself with people who are mainly his relatives and cronies at the expense of those who stood with him.
Mnangagwa is said to have disregarded an agreement with Chiwenga to serve only a single term and not go beyond 2023. Immediately after getting into power, he launched a blitz against several army chiefs, among them Anselem Sanyatwe who was a commander Presidential Guard and played a key role in the late former president Robert Mugabe’s ouster in a military coup in November 2017.
Sanyatwe was appointed ambassador to Tanzania while another army chief, the late Douglas Nyikayaramba, was deployed to Mozambique.
Mnangagwa has reportedly divided the war veterans who are also said to be unhappy with him for failing to reward them enough — even though they vigorously campaigned for his ascendancy during the Mugabe days.
War veterans feel only their leader Christopher Mutsvangwa, their party secretary Douglas Mahiya and Victor Matemadanda were rewarded enough at the expense of the rank and file of ex-combatants.
Matemadanda was later demoted from the powerful positions of Zanu PF national political commissar and Defence deputy minister, becoming ambassador to Mozambique where he replaced late Nyikayaramba.
The fears of serious fights have been buoyed by reports of combative former Zanu PF national political commissar Savior Kasukuwere’s “imminent” return to challenge for the party leadership. This comes amid reports the former Local Government minister is relishing massive grassroots support from the party structures and the youths who are unhappy with the party’s current state of affairs.
Zanu PF is also reportedly worried that the structures of the vanquished G40 faction which were created and strengthened during the Mugabe era were still intact on the ground. These elements could align with a host of disgruntled party activists who feel they were robbed during the party’s provincial restructuring last December.
Kasukuwere would not immediately confirm reports of his imminent return. But his honchos, already on the ground, said it was all systems go for his comeback which they claimed has the backing of some bigwigs within the ruling party.
There is speculation “Tyson”, as Kasukuwere is nicknamed in Zanu PF, is coming back to manage the tribal imbalance in the party that has angered several bigwigs including Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga who accuse Mnangagwa of filling the key portfolios in cabinet, the party and parastatals with his Karanga clique.
“He is coming back,” a source close to Kasukuwere said. “2023 shall be exciting and someone is going out,” the source added.
Kasukuwere sparked further anxiety after posting a picture purportedly in Nyanga indicating he was now back in the country.
“Beautiful country, Nyanga,” Kasukuwere posted.
He would not shed light when The NewsHawks contacted him for comment.
Fears of fresh fissures, insiders confirmed, were also fuelled by a Central Intelligence Organisation report that projected Zanu PF’s probability of winning the 2023 elections at a low 45%. The report cited supporters’ disgruntlement with internal election outcomes and Mnangagwa’s failure to deliver after the 2017 military coup.
There are also serious fights for the control of the party in the Midlands, Manicaland, Matabeleland North, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central provinces, among other areas, with the party structures deeply divided along factional lines.
In the Midlands, Mnangagwa’s backyard, supporters of former National Security minister Owen Ncube are still questioning why he was blocked from contesting for the post of provincial chairperson and subsequently fired from his cabinet post.
Fights are also rife in Manicaland where a camp linked to Albert Nyakuedzwa is bitter over the controversial endorsement of Mike Madiro’s “victory” by the politburo in total disregard of those who claim he lost the internal elections. Nyakuedzwa and others have lodged complaints.
Richard Ndlovu, who lost in Matabeleland North, has also complained to the national political commissar Mike Bimha.
In Harare, Mliswa warned of fresh fissures in Zanu PF, saying the party was failing to handle internal dynamics shaped by provincial and primary elections which have left the party weakened ahead of the 26 March by-elections.
“Instead of Zanu PF focusing on impinging the opposition’s operations, it should be focusing on dealing with internal strife that threatens the party’s candidates such as Epworth’s Zaleriah Makari. Already, there are fatal fissures there which need urgent attention,” Mliswa, who claims to keenly know Zanu PF’s internal dynamics, said on microblogging site Twitter.
“If Zanu PF is to win Epworth, the party needs to reconcile these people and bring them together,” Mliswa said before listing disgruntled people in the area.
In Mashonaland West, there are fights over the control of the party with a group aligned to Mary Mliswa-Chikoka arguing she did not win fairly while similar fights have erupted in Mashonaland Central and Masvingo provinces.
But Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa rubbished claims that the party faces imminent implosion amid panic over the purported return of G40.
“We are strong, we never were affected by anything. We have one leader and the parties that easily split are the MDCs. They have been MDC, MDC-T now Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC). Zanu PF never breaks, so why speak of imagination?”
On G40, he said: “Where do they want to come back? It is a pipedream and we do not take it seriously. They were kicked out and will never make it again.”
“They have absolutely no structures in the party. Their only structure was Grace Mugabe and when she lost they lost and that is why they are still in the wilderness and the country is marching on,” he said.
“Why are they in exile in the first place? Nobody chased them away and if you are afraid on your own how will they muster the courage to take over the party. They are cowards and how can cowards try to usurp power?”
“The fear is within them so if you can’t overcome fear within yourself, how can you then say you can organise a party? Kasukuwere came and left on his own, the other kingpin Grace is here and nobody touches here. Her daughter, Bona, is every other day going to State House to see the President — you can ask her. Which G40 kingpins are bigger than Grace?”